Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Game 48: LA Kings; That was a Beauty

Tonight, the Columbus Blue Jackets won a franchise record seventh straight game with a 5-3 win over a powerful LA Kings squad.  Always nice to get these guys on the back end of something like 4 games in 6 nights, but I have a feeling Coach Sutter isn't accepting that as an excuse, in spite of the reality of the situation.  The Jackets did not let the fact that LA drew first blood perturb them, and drew even on their first power play of the night.  Better yet, they scored late in the first period to take a two goal lead.  Having seen how that deflated the opposition, they did one better, and scored two late in the second period to put the game away, in spite of the fact that the Kings had evened the score earlier in the second period.  It is tempting to call this a signature win, but the visiting team had enough disadvantages that I think that is a reach.  We play the Kings again out on the coast right before the Olympic break.  I'd like to suggest that the Kings will have a burr under their saddle, and the outcome of that game has a lot of bearing on the significance of this game.

Bottom line, any time you can write your names in a franchise's record books with a win, it is a good night for the team.  This group of players deserves it, and I would like to see them set the bar high for future Blue Jackets squads.  So keep it going!

1.  My first beer of tonight's six pack, a hoppy Columbus Brewing Company (CBC) IPA goes to none other than the Umbeak, who had a lot of hop in his game tonight.
Ummbeak!!  Ummmmmbeaaaaaak!!
   It was obvious that RJ Umberger had his game going tonight, as did his line mates Ryan Johansen and Nick Foligno.  Accounting for three goals, this line was a force all night long.  Yeah, LA got away with some dirty tricks tonight, especially against Joey.  This line paid them back on the score sheet, which is the only score that matters.

RJ is playing as well now as he has for several years.  The decision to take some weight off over the summer, and come in at a lighter playing weight is really paying off now (yes, I know I said it before, but its so freaking obvious that it deserves mention again), and RJ's game is in top form.  He could have cost me my coveted Ryan Murray era draft hat, a birthday present from my son, but no, he didn't take the empty net hattie, holding on the the puck and killing time instead.  Which is okay, considering that his second goal was one of those odd shots that hit the pipe and went in rather than hitting the pipe and deflecting out.  It's what happened after that goal that counted most.  Nice work tonight RJ.  Well done!

2.  My second CBJ beer, an Elevator Dirty Dick's Nut Brown Ale, goes to Nathan Horton.  His goal with 16 seconds left in the second period was the second goal the CBJ scored in the last two minutes of the second period.  This was a dagger in the King's heart, and put them away.  The CBJ are now 8-1 with Horton in the lineup.  Which is not about Horton, so much as it is about the whole team.  And, as my son pointed out, it doesn't hurt to have a red hot Bobrovsky come back from injury right at the same time you join the team.  Which made me laugh.  Nonetheless, Horton has had an impact on team confidence, which is a big, big thing.

My favorite play of Horton's tonight was in the first period, when he had rotated up to the point to cover for a pinching defenseman, and the puck came out an he bobbled it.  Jeff Carter stole the puck and had a clean break away, except for one thing.  Horton had his stick so completely tied up (legally), that Carter took off, but his stick did not come with him.  Great third effort by Horton, breakaway shut down.  I loved that play.

3. Close behind my second beer is the third beer (ever notice that this is the point in the evening where foreign languages become easy?), a smooth, easy drinking Marzen from Gordon Biersch, which goes to Arty Anisimov.  It was funny.  Arty took a penalty for delay of game, and seemed really bummed about it.  After that, he made a number of very, very stout plays on defense.  Finally, he made a very stout play, shut down a rush, and took off the other way with the puck, and calmly puts in perfectly on Horton's stick with 16 seconds left in the period.    His game seemed to gather momentum as the evening went on, capped off by his goal in the third period.  After that it was 'stick a fork in them, they're done' for the Kings as they trailed by 3 goals midway through the third.  This was a really nice game by Artem Anisimov.

4. My next beer of the evening, a long, tall, yummy stadium beer, goes to Ryan Johansen.  His goal late in the second period helped solidify a momentum shift from the Kings to the Jackets.  Ryan Murray fed him with a sublime pass, and Johansen did not waste the breakaway opportunity, getting in close and roofing the puck past the Kings goal tender.  It was a sweet, sweet play.  Joey was a dominant player in this game, in spite of some of the abuse he took at the hands of the Kings.   His growth continues apace.

5.  My fifth beer, a solid yet spectacular Sam Adams Boston Lager, goes to the defensive pairing of James Wisniewski and Ryan Murray.  Simply put, you don't get a seven game winning streak without these two playing excellent hockey.  The cool thing is the synergy of this pairing.  The whole is greater than the parts, but both parts are contributing excellent hockey within their own strengths.  You don't see this kind of thing all the time, and we are really lucky to be able to watch it.  I heard a bit of George Matthew's post game, and he was a bit surprised at seeing Murray.  He has been away from the team, and if you weren't used to it you would be shocked by young Murray's contributions.  But Wiz provides the perfect counterpoint to Murray's game, and the pair excels.

6. My sixth beer, a homey beer, goes to the home crowd tonight, for booing the h**l out of Jeff Carter, even when he scored the goal we set him up with.  Neither the team or the crowd was deflated by that, and the crowd continued booing Carter every time he touched the puck.  And of course the Arch City Army reminded him that he suc*ed all night long.  A little bit more snark in the crowd than I've seen before.  I don't think that is a bad thing at all.

Wow.  Nice win tonight.  We need to keep winning to keep pace in the competitive Metro Division.  On the other hand, we are making real headway now.  Any future results are magnified at this juncture, because we are playing Eastern Conference opponents for the most part.  Holding on to a playoff spot for another night or two.  Future occupation of this spot is contingent on future results.

Scoring depth.  Game 1 goals: Atkinson, Wisniewski, Johansen, Letestu.  Game 2 Goals:  Savard, Calvert, Dubinsky.  Game 3 goals: Umberger (2), Johansen, Horton, Anisimov.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Foligno is due, as is Jenner, and a couple of defensemen.  It's not like this is not sustainable.

Lots of tears and cheers yet ahead this season.  This is what it is all about, enjoy the ride!!


1 comment:


    This is the kind of thing I knew was coming for this team.

    Absolutely a thing of beauty.

    BLUE JACKETS: Don't take no for an answer! BE THERE.

    - Joe in Van